What is Blue Tongue Disease in Deer? Unveiling the Silent Killer

Blue Tongue Disease in Deer

Blue Tongue Disease, also known as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), is a viral disease that affects deer populations. It is transmitted by biting midges and can cause significant mortality among deer herds.

Causes and Transmission

Blue Tongue Disease is caused by the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (EHDV), which belongs to the Reoviridae family. The virus infects deer through the bite of infected midges, commonly known as no-see-ums or biting gnats.

Symptoms and Effects

Deer infected with Blue Tongue Disease may display various symptoms. These symptoms can vary depending on the deer species, as well as the strain of the virus. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Swollen face, neck, or tongue
  • Excessive salivation or nasal discharge

In severe cases, infected deer may experience hemorrhages, particularly in the mouth, nose, and intestines. These hemorrhages can lead to death in extreme cases.

Geographical Distribution

Blue Tongue Disease is widespread in North America, affecting both wild and domestic deer populations. It is most commonly found in the Midwest, Southeast, and parts of the Southwest. The disease is more prevalent in warmer climates, as midges are more active during the summer and early fall months.

Prevention and Control

There are no specific treatments for Blue Tongue Disease in deer. Therefore, prevention and control measures are crucial in managing the disease. Some prevention strategies include:

  1. Reducing midge populations through habitat management
  2. Implementing insect control measures
  3. Providing supplemental feeding to maintain deer health and immune system
  4. Implementing surveillance programs to identify and monitor outbreaks

It is essential to report any suspected cases of Blue Tongue Disease to local wildlife agencies or veterinarians to help track and control outbreaks effectively.

Impact on Deer Populations

Blue Tongue Disease can have a significant impact on deer populations. In areas where the disease is prevalent, deer mortality rates can increase dramatically. The disease can also affect the overall health and reproductive capabilities of surviving deer, leading to long-term population declines.


Blue Tongue Disease is a serious viral disease that affects deer populations and is transmitted by midges. Its symptoms and effects can vary, and prevention and control measures are crucial to managing the disease. By implementing preventive strategies and reporting suspected cases, we can help protect deer populations from this deadly disease.

Frequently Asked Questions Of What Is Blue Tongue Disease In Deer? Unveiling The Silent Killer

What Are The Symptoms Of Blue Tongue Disease In Deer?

Blue tongue disease in deer is characterized by swollen tongue, fever, excessive saliva, and weakness.

How Is Blue Tongue Disease Transmitted Among Deer?

Blue tongue disease in deer is primarily transmitted through the bites of infected midges.

Can Blue Tongue Disease Affect Humans?

No, blue tongue disease is not known to affect humans. It primarily affects ruminants like deer and sheep.

How Is Blue Tongue Disease Diagnosed In Deer?

The diagnosis of blue tongue disease in deer is typically done through blood tests and observation of clinical signs.

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